Six weeks to six pack abs! Melt that muffin top! Burn the fat!  These are all phrases we have heard that promise to reduce fat in areas we want to tone up.  Companies continue to make these empty promises because as a whole we continue to believe there is an easy solution.  Millions of dollars in revenue are made every year on different fitness products as consumers continue to look for a quick fix.  The fact of the matter is, maintaining a healthy body goes beyond some 30 day plan.  It requires consistent training and a balanced diet on a regular basis.

So why is spot reduction not a solution?  The idea of spot reduction means to reduce the amount of subcutaneous fat tissue in a specific area of the body. Fat is lost through the release of an enzyme called lipase.  Lipase acts like an oven burner with a pot of water.  When lipase kicks into gear it sends a signal to triglycerides (which fill up fat cells) to release into the bloodstream as energy. Kind of like how water boils and releases into the air as steam.  Men generally tend to accumulate fat predominantly in the abdominal region and women tend to have fat storage in the gluteal-femoral region.  Genetics dictates a lot of what areas we will put on fat first and where we will lose it last.  This means regardless of what body parts you are exercising, your body actually chooses where it will store majority of your fat reserves and where it will let it go.Abs

A study comprised of both men and women aged 23 (+/- 1 year) trained for 12 weeks at 3x/week with their nondominant leg.  The sessions consisted of leg presses at 10%-30%  of their 1 rep max for 960-1200 reps.  Lean body mass was measured with dual-emission x-ray absorptiometry before and after the study.  The results showed an overall reduction in body fat by 5.1% with a significant decrease in the upper extremities.  This shows that working larger muscle groups will contribute to an increased amount of calories burned which encourages fat reduction, but working specific muscle groups does not guarantee fat lost in that area.

When putting together a workout program for my clients trying to lose weight,  I find incorporating compound, full-body movements to be the most effective and provide the best results.  These type of exercises will help you to maximize your calorie burn.  Regardless of the areas of your body that you would like to tighten up, strengthening all muscle groups helps to prevent muscular imbalances and deviations within the body and reflect a more toned look once your overall body fat is reduced.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that work multiple muscle groups to yield optimal results:

  1. Deadlifts – hamstrings, glutes, upper & lower back, delts, core
  2. Squat thrusts -quads, hamstrings, glutes, delts, core
  3. Push-ups – chest, triceps, delts, core
  4. Pull-ups – lats, biceps, delts, core
  5. Planks – delts, chest, glutes, quads, calves, core

Get your clients doing some of these exercises on a regular basis now! What are some more exercises you suggest to your clients?

Christine Oakes

Christine Oakes is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Health Coach, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist and 200RYT certified yoga instructor . She currently operates her own fitness company offering personal training, bootcamp and yoga classes in the Mountain View, CA area. Christine has had a love for being active since childhood and believes that true fitness comes from a balance of strength, nutrition, flexibility and a dose of fun. Learn more about Christine at